Kitten Training

1. Let the kitten's mother socialize it for at least eight weeks.


  Generally, a kitten needs at least two months of socialization with its mother before they can be separated. During this time, the mother should do most of the "training" we associate with having a good, well-behaved house cat.

  • Kittens start weaning at around a month and will be fully weaned and should be eating solid food by eight weeks.
  • If your cat has had a litter of kittens and you're weaning them yourself, it's absolutely essential that you let it take at least two months before you separate them completely. The mother should train the kitten to know its strength, eat properly, and use the litter box.
  • 2. Avoid buying kittens who have been weaned too early.


      If you're buying a kitten from the store, make sure you discover exactly how old it is. Kittens who are weaned too early tend to be more aggressive and will require more training than properly weaned kittens.

    3. Continue to socialize your kitten.


      The best pets are those which are properly socialized at a young age. A well socialized kitten should be handled from 2 weeks of age, by a variety of people - young and old, and of different genders and physical appearances. This handling should take place every day, ideally for 5 - 10 minutes at least twice a day - the more often the better.

  • If your kitten is not socialized and used to people, you will face an uphill struggle to train the kitten. This is because the kitten will be wary of people and not not trust them. Thus your first task is to win the kitten's confidence.
  • If the kitten is already older than 8 weeks and not used to people, they are likely to behave like a feral or "wild" kitten. Unfortunately, once this behavior is established it is difficult to break and the likelihood is the kitten will grow into an anti social cat.
  • 4. Be patient when socializing your kitten.


      You cannot force a kitten or cat to do anything, and so your weapons are patience and providing positive rewards when the kitten is around so they begin to link you to nice experiences.

  • Examples of this include lying on the floor when you watch TV, and keeping a treat or two in your hand or pocket. By lying down you pose less of a threat and so a curious kitten may advance toward you. By dropping a treat on the floor this rewards the kitten's boldness and may help them to link people to tasty snacks, and make them more willing to approach in future.
  • 5. Use positive reinforcement.


      Rubbing a cat's face in messes that it makes, or yelling loudly, is a terrible way to train kittens. Positive reinforcement is accomplished by rewarding behavior that you want the cat to repeat, so that the cat will eventually abandon the old behaviors that you want the cat to avoid. This is the easiest way to change a cat's behavior.

  • If a cat does something you don't like, ignore the cat. Usually, whining at the door or clawing at something is a way of getting your attention. If it doesn't work, the cat will soon abandon the behavior entirely.
  • A reward might be a tasty treat. Most cats have one "must have" treat. If your kitten doesn't seem food motivated, then try them with a variety of foods to see which one excites them.
  • 6. Avoid punishing the kitten.


      Punishing the kitten may make a superficial improvement but the cat will merely become more devious. Take the scenario where the cat urinates in the middle of the lounge room carpet. If you punish or frighten the kitten, they will link the punishment to you rather than urinating on the carpet. Thus, the kitten will become careful not to urinate in front of you in the future. This can also backfire because the kitten is more likely to seek hidey-holes to urinate, or alternatively, become hesitant to use the litter tray when you are about because they are wary of you.

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